Filed under: SUV , Toyota , Off-Road , Quick Spins I recently took the redesigned 2014 Toyota 4Runner for a muddy romp in Pennsylvania. While the mechanical bits and pieces beneath the body-on-frame SUV trudge forward into the new model year with very few tweaks, the truck “receives a rugged new exterior design and interior refinements that add comfort and convenience without sacrificing its hallmark performance capability and excellent value,” says the automaker. A quick visual scan of the 4Runner reveals a new front end with a more “aggressive” and “muscular” appearance (yes, I’m quoting Toyota ) that includes new headlights, grille and hood scoop. A roof rack is now standard across all trims, too. While the SR5 has a bland color-keyed grille insert that gives the face a monochromatic appearance, the Trail (shown above and in our gallery ) and range-topping Limited have brightwork on the front that provides a bit more character. New soft-touch surfaces within the cabin provide a more upscale environment and a bright new Optitron instrument panel improves readability and functionality. As before, the SR5 and Trail models arrive with fabric upholstery or optional Softex seats (synthetic leather). Genuine hides are reserved for the Limited trim, which is also fitted with Toyota’s unique X-REAS (X-Relative Absorber System) automatic suspension system as standard equipment. Driving Notes Despite (or arguably, because of) its 2014 facelift, the 4Runner is challenged in the appearance department. The styling, inside and out, is confusing to us, with odd angles and shapes that don’t appear cohesive with any overall sense of design.
Filed under: SUV , Toyota , Off-Road Toyota sold 121,055 Highlander CUVs in 2012, according to Automotive News . By comparison, it sold 78,457 examples of four different body-on-frame, truck-based SUVs ( 4Runner , FJ Cruiser , Sequoia and Land Cruiser ). One could argue then, that the traditional SUVs aren’t pulling their weight from a sales perspective. Yet that isn’t stopping Toyota from reaffirming its commitment to a segment that has seen its former champions – Ford , General Motors and Chrysler – abandon it with alarming speed. Ford and GM still offer body-on frame utilities, but only in the very largest offerings, catering to seven or even eight passengers. Everything outside of the Expedition or Tahoe rides now on a unibody. Toyota’s decision to stick with the technology is good news if you’re in the market for smaller SUVs that are still capable of heading well off the beaten path. Outside of the Jeep Wrangler , Grand Cherokee (a unibody) and perhaps Nissan Xterra , there’s not much in terms of capable SUVs between $20,000 and $50,000. As the Toyota brand’s US head, Bill Fay, says, “Clearly, the trend has shifted, but there is still an owner base that is interested in these vehicles.” We don’t doubt Fay on that, but it may also be somewhat telling that Toyota’s SUV lineup is aging, and we haven’t seen or heard much about replacement models in the pipeline. Admittedly, the 4Runner (pictured) has been facelifted for 2014, but it’s mostly cosmetic in nature.
Filed under: Aftermarket , SUV , Toyota , Off-Road It’s no secret that our friends at Xplore want you to see the country. The company is dedicated to building rambling rides that will let you venture to our nation’s most scenic parks. The newest creation rolling out of the Xplore garage is a trip-ready Toyota 4Runner that’s packed with the usual assortment of off-road goodies we’ve come to expect. Like all Xplore vehicles, the 4Runner can be equipped in stages. Three stages are available, and they range from an upgraded interior and a few external bolt ons to the expedition-grade 4Runner shown above. The full monty comes with a slew of ARB items such as a winch and front brush guard, as well as a set of Method aluminum wheels, upgraded suspension components and extra beefy BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires. The 4Runner joins the Jeep Wrangler , Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota FJ Cruiser in the Xplore lineup. Each time a vehicle is sold, Xplore hands over a portion of the cash to the National Parks Foundation. Besides the keys to the car, you will also enjoy a one-year pass to visit the our National Parks and a subscription to the Xplore Lifestyle Journal, which basically provides you with excuses to go use your new vehicle as much as possible. See all the details in the press release after the break .
Filed under: Audi , BMW , Chevrolet , Dodge , Ford , Honda , Hyundai , Jeep , Toyota , Volvo Wards Automotive 10 Best Interiors of 2011 – Click above for high-res image gallery Wards Automotive takes its 10 Best Interior awards seriously. The industry mag tested 51 vehicles to come up with this year’s winners, which span three luxury vehicles, three economy cars, a sport sedan, a minivan, a family sedan and an SUV. Ward’s AutoWorld Editor-in-Chief Drew Winter says the publication has never tested so many vehicles, adding, “Every auto maker wants the freshest, highest-quality interior possible for all the vehicles they sell.” Showing just how much the world of interiors has changed over the years, Chrysler was the only automaker to take home two awards, thanks to the Dodge Charger and Jeep Grand Cherokee , while Kia and Hyundai could technically say the same since the Elantra and Optima each took home honors. At the same time, both Toyota and Lexus were shut out, as was Honda’s Acura luxury brand and Mercedes-Benz . Among the first-time winners for 2011 are the Ford Focus Titanium and Chevy Cruze . Click on the image above to browse through all 10 winners, or you can head over to Wards Automotive for the complete scoop. What do you think – Did Wards get it right? If not, what was left out and what should it replace? Gallery: Wards 2011 10 Best Interiors [Source: Wards Automotive ] Ward’s Automotive picks best car interiors of 2011 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 11 Apr 2011 18:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .